The RC (Remote Control) Laser sailboat is one of the easiest model yachts to assemble and operate. It is a scaled-down version of the real boat – the famous racing Laser dinghy, which is the most popular sailing class in the world. The RC version of this boat was intended to be simple so that those who are new to the sport would find it relatively easy to get into due to affordability and ease of use.
However, just because it is easy to learn doesn’t mean it is easy to master. And this is one thing that makes it so appealing to sailors of all different ages and abilities.
The full sized racing Laser dinghy was designed by Canadian sailor/yacht designer Bruce Kirby. Kirby has appeared in three Olympics and also designed two America’s Cup Defenders. The Laser is his most popular and best-known design. In fact, well over 200,000 of them have been built which makes the Laser the all-time most popular racing class.
The RC version of the Laser was created by RC yacht designer Jon Elmaleh who has been one of the top designers of remote-controlled boats since 1982. He has also earned well over 30 championships in national RC racing events. His technical design skills partnered with practical racing experience aided in the final RC Laser product.
RC Laser Specifications & Features
All RC Lasers have the same dimensions. Some of the Laser’s specs and features include:
|Spec / Feature||Details|
|Overall length||105.4cm / 41.5in|
|Waterline length||95.8cm / 37.7in|
|Beam||33.3cm / 13.1in|
|Draft||43.2cm / 17in|
|Weight||4kg / 9lb|
|Overall height – A Rig||216cm / 85in (from bottom of keel to top of mast)|
|Hull and deck||One piece molded polyethylene|
|Mast||Two piece, tapered fiberglass and swivels as it is fitted into a non-captive deck step. There is no standing rigging.|
|Sails||Non-woven polyester composite film, sleeved|
|Boom||Stainless outhaul sliders that are easy to adjust|
|Gooseneck||Fixed to mast and rigid (no boom vang required)|
|Keel and rudder||Snap together with no tools required|
|Electronics||On board, class-approved sail and steering servos|
|Radio compartment||Easy access with a snap-lid port|
|Radio||2-channel AM system (for use with drum sail winch and steering servos)|
|Batteries||Uses 8 or 12 AA batteries, alkaline or rechargeable (not included)|
|All Parts||Inexpensive to replace and designed to be completely interchangeable|
|Other||Saltwater safe, corrosion resistant|
Different Kinds of Rigs
The Laser RC sailboat has a total of four different sails/rigs and each rig set up requires a slightly different mast and boom combination. As complicated as this may sound, it really isn’t and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be changing rigs quickly and with ease.
Many RC sailors actually own all 4 rigs so that they are able to pick the best rig for the conditions on the day. This gives them the best chance of being competitive.
Essentially the wind speed will help you to determine which rig set up to run. There may also be times when you will be able to run a bigger rig for a longer period of time as your sailing/skipper skills improve.
|Rig Config / Specs||A Rig||B Rig||C Rig||D Rig|
|Mast height||1.7m / 5' 7"||1.35m / 4' 5"||1.35m / 4' 5"||1.35m / 4' 5"|
|Sail area||0.612 sqm / |
949 sq in
|0.458 sqm / |
710 sq in
|0.387 sqm / |
600 sq in
|0.193 sqm / |
300 sq in
|Approx. wind speed (knots)||< 6||7-16||17-22||> 23|
|boom and mast combination||dedicated A mast and standard boom||standard mast and standard boom||standard mast and short boom||standard mast and short boom|
What You Get/Assembly Details
Believe it or not, an RC Laser sailboat has just five parts and can be rigged and unrigged in less than 5 minutes after your first assembly. The shipping box it arrives in has all the parts and you can put them together without the assistance of any tools. The hull, keel, rudder, mast, and sail all fit together easily and are designed specifically to quickly launched, or so you can change rigging quickly to address different racing conditions.
Speaking of launching, all you need is a few feet of water and a gentle breeze. So, in other words, you can sail or race virtually anywhere there is some water. This includes a pond, lake, harbor and even in a swimming pool. Because of the efficient design, even a very light breeze can produce enough wind for your sailboat to work.
When it’s time to pack up and go, the RC Laser comes apart quickly and stows away in a padded boat bag that keeps everything in place and secure for any kind of travel. It is also compact and lightweight so you can carry your packed sailboat over your shoulder, in the trunk of a vehicle or as luggage on a plane. It is that easy to take your hobby with you wherever you go.
Have a look at the video below to see how quickly and easily you can rig your RC Laser…
Where To Purchase
Probably the best option when looking for an RC Laser for sale is to shop online. This is probably your best bet when you are trying to access everything from a used sailboat in good condition all the way to new ones. Plus, if you are in the market for accessories or replacement parts, you will be able to find whatever you need online. The electronics you can purchase in most hobby/electronics stores.
Another source for locating new or second-hand sailboats is at a local yacht club, by asking around or on the noticeboard. Depending on the size of the community and proximity to water, many cities and regional towns have RC Yacht Clubs as well. The sailors/skippers in these clubs may have contacts that can help you locate what you are after.
Another option, hobby shops are where you may be able to find an RC Laser sailboat for sale.
Popular And Affordable
As mentioned above, the RC Laser is very popular. The reasons vary but most of it has to do with the fact that there are clubs set up so that you can actually race against others with identical boats (similar to the actual full-sized laser world-class racing dinghy). Being remote control, it is easy to learn (but can be difficult to master) and people of all ages and fitness levels can race. The interest in racing also spans generational boundaries with parents, children and even grandparents racing each other on a family outing.
What has assisted in cementing the racing relationship of RC boats with real sailors is the formation of RC Yacht Clubs. Some are under the umbrella and share facilities with regular yacht clubs where others are stand-alone groups. The reasonable cost of RC Laser sailing is also what attracts people with a basic new starter kit running between $500 and $1,000.
One great way to connect with other RC sailboat owners is through social media and the internet. There are several pages on Facebook dedicated to the hobby as well as YouTube videos showing how they handle and how competitive racing these remote control model boats can be. See the video and links below for some good resources.
For More Information Visit These Websites
http://rclaser.org.uk/ contains information on news, events, and clubs around the UK, as well as other general RC Laser information.
In Western Canada, the largest group is the NanaimoRC Laser Fleet 17 in British Columbia. Their website includes a schedule of upcoming racing events and has results from previous ones.
In the United States, there are quite a few clubs to check out. Have a look at http://rclaser.org/ for starters. It has a good list of clubs and events around the USA.
RC sailing is huge in Australia and one of the best sources for information on events, buying a boat and anything else you may need to know is at http://radiosail.com.au/.
Other RC Sailing information:
In addition to the above sites, other great places to find out more about RC sailing include –
- American Model Yachting Association
- Canandaigua Lake RC Laser Sailing
- Australian Radio Yachting Association
- Radio Control Sailing Facebook Page
- American Model Yachting Association
Your Laser RC Sailboat Is Waiting
Remote controlled sailing is much more than just a hobby – it’s a sport that a complete world of competition has been built around. Included in that world is a lifestyle that brings families and friends together.
It can be as casual or as competitive as you desire and what makes RC sailing with a Laser RC boat most interesting is that it is fun for everyone.
Author note: Thanks to Graham, Steve and the other gents down at Dobroyd Aquatic Club for sharing their time and expertise with me. They were very welcoming and willing to give their time and explain things in detail, just as many of the other club members around Australia and the rest of the world would be to RC sailing newbies, I am sure.
So if you want to know more about RC Laser sailing, have a look at the links provided above, as well as drop down to your local club and have a look for yourself and chat to the locals.